To get to the moment of truth at Pomona, Schumacher and his team had to erase what was once a 336-point deficit almost halfway through the year. “Listen, that wasn’t an easy task by any means,” Schumacher said. “But I felt that if there was ever a team that could get over such a hurdle, it would be my team. When we got that first win at St. Louis in the end of June, I felt confident we could get on a roll.” Entering his 12th professional season, Schumacher knows times are changing. Not only is the competition getting tougher and tougher, but now he will have to contend with the NHRA’s new “Countdown to the Championship.” “As for the competition, there are no easy draws anymore,” he said. “The amount of talent in the Top Fuel class these days is mind-boggling. You have the three-car Kalitta team, Brandon Bernstein, Larry Dixon, Cory McClenathan and J.R. Todd, just to name a few guys. Any number of teams and drivers can win races and, ultimately, the championship. That’s why you have to be on your game every weekend. “And this year, in particular, you better be on your game right from the start. With the new championship format, you have to be in the top eight after the Reading (Pa.) race or else you’ll be relegated to playing the spoiler role. It was at the 2006 season finale in November when Schumacher completed the biggest comeback in NHRA history by winning the Auto Club Finals with a record-setting 4.428-second quarter-mile effort in the finals. The 20 bonus points allowed him to clinch a third straight championship. “If I said I’ve stopped thinking about what happened that day, I would be lying,” Schumacher said. “You can’t forget about history. What the U.S.Army team did last year was incredible.” “This new chase will be exciting, for sure. I’ll be interested to see how it all shakes out. As a team, you clearly want to be running your best toward the end of the year. In recent years, we’ve typically run well later in the season. I hope that trend continues this time around.” Should Schumacher rise up and win a fourth straight crown, he will enter the Top Fuel record books as the only driver to turn that trick. “I know the record is hanging out there, but I’m not overly concerned with it,” he said. “My goal is to win another world championship for the U.S. Army and all of our soldiers around the world. Plain and simple, we race for the brave men and women who are fighting for our freedom on a daily basis.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Despite the old adage – “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” – Tony Schumacher can’t be faulted for thinking about 2006, and specifically the NHRA Auto Club Finals. The NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series returns to Pomona Raceway this weekend for the season-opening Carquest Auto Parts Winternationals. Schumacher would probably like a stroll down memory lane, but he’ll be all business behind the wheel of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster.